Fraunhofer and the Future of Radio on Vimeo

Fraunhofer, the German labs that develop all kinds of coding technology are probably the best known for their MP3 audio encoding system used to squeeze lots of music onto portable music players in the 90’s and 00’s. They also developed a way to compress the audio onto the now defunct Worldspace satellite system. So what are they up to now? It seems from this interview on the Fraunhofer stand at the recent IBC that they are putting video and text into low bandwidth audio transmission systems. Whilst I see that they have managed to squeeze video into a very tiny pipe, I don’t share the sort of Open University for Africa dream that I see demonstrated here. With the number of shortwave transmitters in the region being reduced, and few DRM capable transmitters in the region, that video option may have come too late. So what do you think?

MicroHDTV Camera


A novel miniature camera allows viewers to enjoy a new live experience and watch a ski jump or a car race in high resolution from the actor’s perspective. The camera is so tiny that it even fits inside the cramped cockpit of a racing car. Until recently, this could only be done in standard TV resolution. Now these images have made the leap to ‘high-definition TV’ (HDTV), thanks to a mini-camera developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen. Several licensees will soon be putting the camera into series production.

Measuring 4 by 4 by 8 centimeters, the camera is smaller than a bar of soap and can even be accommodated in a cramped racing-car cockpit or a ski jumper’s helmet. »The MicroHDTV model is one of the smallest HDTV cameras currently available,« says Stephan Gick, group leader at the IIS. »We achieved this chiefly by taking two different approaches: The camera’s electronics have a very low power loss, which means that little heat is generated and the housing can thus be kept very small. By using highly integrated parts, we were able to fit all of the components such as the image sensor, the analog-to-digital converter, the color processor and several interfaces into the tiny space available inside the camera.«

With its format of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a variable frame rate of up to 60 frames per second, the camera meets all the requirements expected of a professional HDTV production. All parameters – such as color settings, white balance, image format and frame rate – can be controlled using the integrated software. All it takes is to open a web browser, connect the camera to the notebook via a local network and set the desired parameters. »Because the camera is so small and can be controlled via the Internet, it can deliver pictures of scenes that could not be viewed in the same way before – for example, recordings of sports events or applications that require the camera to be installed in difficult-to-reach places,« says Gick.

Another of the camera’s advantages is that it can be operated using standard optical systems. The MicroHDTV camera will be on display at the CeBIT trade fair (Hall 9, Stand B36), which will take place in Hanover, Germany from March 15 to 21 2007.

More information from Dipl.-Ing. Stephan Gick, Phone: +49 9131 776-521
Fax: +49 9131 776-598

Fraunhofer-Institut für Integrierte Schaltungen IIS
Am Wolfsmantel 33
91058 Erlangen, Germany